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Cattle Rise to Six-Month High as U.S. Supply Tightens

Cattle futures rose to a six-month high on signs of tightening U.S. supplies and increasing beef exports. Hog prices fell.

Feedlots probably purchased or placed 8.3 percent fewer cattle in August than they did a year earlier, according to the average estimate of 14 analysts in a Bloomberg survey. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release inventory figures at 3 p.m. tomorrow. The number of animals added to the feedlot herd declined in May, June and July, USDA data show.

“We’re getting evidence of a shortfall of available beef from December through April,” Rich Nelson, the chief strategist at Allendale Inc. in McHenry, Illinois, said in a telephone interview. “People have to be aware of winter shortages.”

Cattle futures for December delivery rose 0.6 percent to close at $1.29725 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price reached $1.299, the highest for the most-active contract since March 5.

Feedlot operators typically buy year-old animals that weigh 500 pounds (227 kilograms) to 800 pounds, called feeders. The cattle are fattened on corn for four to five months until they weigh about 1,300 pounds, when they are sold to meatpackers.

Export sales of beef totaled 17,169 metric tons (37.85 million pounds) in the week ended Sept. 12, and sales in the past four weeks are 26 percent above the year-earlier average, according to USDA data.

Feeder-cattle futures for October settlement rose 0.7 percent to $1.59375 a pound.

Hog futures for December settlement dropped 0.7 percent to 87.3 cents a pound.

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